Canada's Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA Canada) has received a report from an ARTA Canada member who attended the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) Town Hall Meeting in Ottawa last Thursday, 29 April 2010. Six attendees representing four TICO registrants are reported to have participated at the Ottawa meeting. Not many more participated in London, Ontario on 15 April 2010.
Despite the incredibly poor attendance, registrants did convey to TICO that the current board of directors structure, heavy with association appointments at the expense of elected board members, was not desirable, and that more elected board members were needed. Ironically, TICO's decision to give the Minister of Consumer Services an additional board seat from the elected board seats seems all for naught, as the Minister, eight months later, has still not appointed the fifth ministerial board member.
"It looks like TICO's registrant survey, where 63% of respondents said that the current board structure needed change, may be TICO's best guide in assessing registrant preferences regarding the composition changes needed for the TICO board. So far, it looks like registrants were more inclined to give TICO input in writing than come out to do so face-to-face", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
Members also continue to question the need expressed by TICO to register individual travel counsellors and outside sales representatives; a fact which TICO states is caused by "changes to the agency business model" with so many different types of individuals working for or contracted by retail agencies. TICO was told that the business model has not changed and that agencies have always had a wide array of employed and contracted sales staff.
"This has nothing to do with changing business models nor any other compelling reason to force individual travel counsellors or outside sales people to register with TICO. This is purely a money grab for TICO to over-regulate the Ontario travel agency workforce. TICO is breathless that nearly 20,000 people took its education standards exam. TICO is foaming at the mouth to monetize those 20,000 people by creating a registry scheme which can only be described as 'ka-ching!', added Bishins.
TICO claims it wants to register individuals so that they can be included in a database accessible on the TICO web site.
"Hogwash", said Bishins. "TICO already has the names of all persons who took and passed its rules and regulations exam. Let TICO put those names in a database on its web site if it wants. What more does the public need to know other than that those individuals have obtained a pass letter evidencing their skills and knowledge of Ontario's travel consumer protection regulations. That's where TICO's education standards and certification mission lies and that's where it should end", Bishins added.
ARTA Canada is encouraging its members and all travel agencies to attend the TICO Town Hall Meeting in Toronto on 10 May 2010 from 6:00PM until 9:00PM at the Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Road, Etobicoke, ON in the A. Waxman Rooms 3 - 4. For more information, please visit: